The price of the MCAT is another potential obstacle that many students have to deal with. While the actual test fee might seem manageable, there are a lot of hidden costs associated with this test that get overlooked.
This guide will go over how much the MCAT costs, and the various prices of each potential expense.
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How Much Does The MCAT Cost?
The MCAT, also known as the Medical College Admissions Test, is one of the most important tests anyone seeking to become a doctor will take. Most MD and DO-granting medical schools require MCAT scores to even qualify for consideration (although there are some schools that don’t). Despite its importance, the MCAT is not free.
It’s one of many costs associated with the medical school application cycle. The test comes with several fees that only apply to individual scheduled test days. That means that you have to pay registration fees for every MCAT attempt.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, or AAMC, the current MCAT registration fee for 2021 is $320. Generally, the AAMC will charge a fee based on how far ahead you schedule your test date. But for 2021, the price is $320 across the board.
The only exception is when you register late. The AAMC can accept late registrations up to eight days before the test date if seats are available. But, signing up with short notice will cost you an additional $55 on top of the standard $320.
If you need to change your testing date or location, you can do so. The AAMC charges administrative fees of $95 for this as well (which is why it’s a good idea to pick the right location from the get-go).
Finally, there’s the extra fee for international students. This added cost applies to test-takers completing the exam outside the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands.
International testing locations are available in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Lebanon, and more. In addition to the standard $320 registration charge, international test-takers must pay a fee of $115 as of 2021.
Other Costs Associated With Taking The Test
Depending on your circumstances, you’re looking at several hundred dollars to register for a single MCAT test date. If you’re like most prospective students, you’ll likely take in a couple of times to get the best date possible. In those instances, MCAT costs quickly rise.
But that’s not all.
This isn’t a true representation of the true MCAT price. Additional costs will very likely come into play as well. Many of the following expenses are overlooked yet necessary for many test-takers to get the score they want.
Here’s a collection of some of the most common costs you’ll need to cover as you prepare for the MCAT.
1. Study Tools
One of the most valuable investments you’ll make during your MCAT journey will go towards study tools. The MCAT is a hard test that you can’t take lightly if you want to get a good score. Some students attempt to rely on nothing more than their textbooks to prepare for the rigors ahead.
Unfortunately, those students often go into the MCAT unprepared and unready for the actual challenge that awaits.
The MCAT is a four-part exam that covers a wide range of topics. In addition to science-based units covering biology and biochemistry, the exam touches on humanities, social sciences, and more. Not only that, but a vast majority of the test questions are passage-based.
You need more than just good memory skills and repetition to master the MCAT. You have to familiarize yourself with the test structure and question styles. Otherwise, you may end up scoring far lower than you should.
Study tools help you overcome those barriers. Most students preparing for this exam will invest in everything from MCAT prep books to practice tests. The costs of those items vary wildly.
Some are only a few hundred bucks, but prices can climb exponentially.
Full-blown prep courses are the most expensive tools available. However, they’re also the most efficient. They typically come with all the materials you need and many practice opportunities to simulate the real MCAT experience.
MCAT preparation courses usually start around $1,500 to $1,800. More detailed courses with lifetime access can cost three or four times that!
It’s quite common for students to invest in tutoring help when they’re studying for the MCAT. While this isn’t a requirement, it’s usually the method that will result in the greatest score increase.
A good MCAT tutor will take their experience and create a customized study plan based on their assessment of the knowledge the student possesses. They’ll also be available to help students work through this plan to ensure that they’re prepared.
But a good tutor isn’t cheap. While you can find cheap help for the MCAT, the tutors who will yield the best results will typically fall in the $150-$350/hr range.
Most consider this to be a necessary part of the “true” MCAT price because of the significant improvements tutors working with a tutor can bring. The amount of time you work with a tutor is entirely up to you.
3. Traveling To The Test Site
Finally, you can’t forget about the costs associated with getting to the testing site.
This expense will depend entirely on where you live and where you choose to take the test. The AAMC administers tests all over the country and in several international locations. However, they typically stick to big cities and population centers.
If you live in one of those cities, your costs could be as low as a tank of gas or a public transit ticket! However, you might have substantial costs if you live several hours away.
It’s important to consider travel time. Not only do you want to ensure that you’ll arrive on time without any issues, but you need to think about how the stress of travel will affect your performance. The MCAT already takes over six hours without breaks. Can you handle a multi-hour car drive on top of that?
It may be worth paying for a hotel stay. While that would raise your total MCAT costs, the extra time could benefit you in the long haul.
Is There Any Way To Make It More Affordable?
If you’re getting concerned about the realistic MCAT price we’ve listed above, don’t worry. There are ways to lower costs and make things more manageable for you.
The AAMC has a Fee Assistance Program. The program is meant for those who can’t afford to take the MCAT without financial assistance.
To qualify, you must fill out a separate application form and provide accompanying documentation. The application asks for financial information about your family.
The Fee Assistance Program approves applications based on the United States Department of Health and Human Services poverty level guidelines. For 2021, you can get the program award if your family reported an income level that’s 400 percent or less than the previous year’s poverty threshold.
This program can do a lot to offset costs. The program reward typically provides a generous discount on the MCAT registration fee. It may also include waivers for multiple medical school applications and free MCAT study tools.
As you can see, the true MCAT price is a bit more than the test fee. While you don’t technically have to spend anything extra, it’s usually necessary if you want to get a competitive score and get accepted.
Many students make the decision that the extra costs associated with the MCAT are worth it for the increase in performance and decrease in stress. But at the end of the day, what you spend is up to you!